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Friday, October 28, 2016

Advancing the fight for pay equity, President Barack Obama will sign two executive orders this week meant to close the persistent wage gap between women and men.

The first measure would prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their salaries with each other. The executive action would protect employees – usually women – who discover and expose discriminatory pay policies or wages.

The second will require the Secretary of Labor to collect data on federal contractors’ workers’ compensation, which would be organized by race and sex.

Through the two orders, the president hopes to remedy the wage discrimination that often puts women at a disadvantage in the workforce, by encouraging salary transparency by federal contractors and making sure that violations and discrimination are more easily revealed.

Both of these orders come just days before what is expected to be an unsuccessful Senate vote on legislation aimed at closing the gender pay gap.

The timing is designed to put congressional Republicans on the defensive, especially because most on the right refuse to support the latest pay equity bill being debated in Congress, The Paycheck Fairness Act.

In recent days, several conservative politicians have spoken out against the bill, citing an array of reasons why the legislation would be ineffective or counterproductive. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) fears that The Paycheck Fairness Act, meant to ensure equal pay for both genders, will actually expose men to unequal pay. Meanwhile, Texas governor Rick Perry (R) accused Democrats of debating “nonsense” by even tackling the issue.

And yet nearly all Republicans who oppose legislation similar to the orders being signed by the president maintain that they do support equal pay for men and women.

“I will vote the same I did a year ago, which is no,” said conservative senator Kelly Ayotte (NH).

Then, she added: “And I think it’s self-evident I am for women being paid the same for the same job as men.”

According to supposedly equality-backing Republicans, the current Paycheck Fairness Act is just a political ploy by Democrats. Even so, the GOP has not introduced an alternative plan.

This is where the president’s orders come in. They would, however, only pertain to federal contractors, not the general workforce.

Still, the measures represent the latest evidence that President Obama will use all available options to shape economic policy without a reticent Congress. They also promote a key issue for Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections, which should fire up the party’s base)—the nation’s largest labor federation, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), has already come out in support of the president’s executive orders and urged even stronger action.

With Tuesday, April 8 marking Equal Pay Day, The Hill reports that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will launch its own media campaign to bring attention to the issue of wage inequality among the genders. Specifically, the “GOP Pay Gap” campaign will target the GOP’s “longstanding baseless opposition to common-sense measures that would end gender-based pay discrimination,” says DSCC spokeswoman Regan Page. The DSCC will be further backed by the Democratic National Committee, which is also planning an ad campaign in support of pay equity.

Beyond the issue’s larger economic implications, it represents a social and political reality that Republicans have failed to address. The Republican Party’s lack of uniformity on the issue – and its lack of support for the current Paycheck Fairness Act bill in the Senate – make Republicans vulnerable to accusations that they are fighting a “war on women.” Considering that Independents and even Republican women increasingly support legislative efforts to close the gender pay gap, continued opposition could risk driving even more women away from the party.

AFP Photo/Saul Loeb

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Copyright 2014 The National Memo
  • Dominick Vila

    These two Executive Orders are long overdue measures to remedy something that should have never existed in the first place. Retaliating against employees who share information related to their salaries and benefits with fellow employees is unconstitutional. This violation of freedom of speech was designed to minimize the probability of employees seeking union representation, an effort to keep salaries low to be competitive when bidding on government RFPs, and a tool used to reward loyal, above average workers. Unfortunately, it is often used to discriminate or punish employees who are perceived as not towing the line.
    Equal pay for women and minorities should not even be a topic of discussion. I can’t believe there are some elected officials trying to preserve what was the status quo not so long ago. Salaries should be determined by skill level and performance, not gender, sexual preferences, or the pigmentation of someone’s skin.

  • Lola Johnson

    I read yesterday that the female head of the Texas Republican party makes $4000/year less than her male predecessor. That’s $4000 less that she and her husband can put into their retirement, or their child’s college fund, or into that boat he’s always wanted. Per year. Every single year. Yet the fool opposes an equal pay law.

    • stcroixcarp

      But what the heck, she’s married anyway and doesn’t need the money. A husband needs to feel that he can support his wife. If she makes more money, it will just make him dependent and lazy.

    • johninPCFL

      It appears that she needs to develop better negotiating skills…

      /sarc off

  • charles king

    I am (84 years young Black American) I applaud the President Obama pay equity act because NOT only gender discriination but Racial discrimination has always been played by Capitalistic Pigs owners, I can Testify to this, but I over came that by becoming a Great musican and got What? I wanted and need. Thank You are the magic words in my book. I Love Ya All. Beware Of Plutocracy taking over small towns USA. Many of the people in these governing positions carry the southern segregation position that caused much concern for the Black citizens. Mr.C. E. King

  • Wise words …

    Today’s liberalism is impelled by the same destructive forces as its marxist, socialist, and communist ancestors.